Manchester City FC and Malaga CF: The FC Ifeanyi Ubah situation

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Lots of football clubs are owned by business moguls and recently oil magnates have taken interest in doing the football business purchasing the likes of Chelsea FC, Manchester City, Paris St Germain, Malaga CF and a lot of other football clubs in many leagues across all the continents 

Money and wealth can lead to success when managed and disbursed appropriately but it is never a guarantee for sustainable success. Interest in owning football clubs by Oil magnates grew in the 2000s, which saw them purchase a few top sides in Europe, but all didn’t go well for all of them. Taking just two into consideration, Manchester City of England have dominated the Premier League recently while Malaga CF of Spain got relegated last season, eight years after it got acquired by an oil billionaire.

Back home in Nigeria, a businessman in the oil and gas sector decided to venture into the Nigeria football sphere. He bought over Gabros United, a club of history based in his hometown of Nnewi and renamed it FC Ifeanyi Ubah. He went ahead to start on a bright note, starting and completing a stadium project, the first private owned stadium in Nigeria approved by CAF. He also brought in players from outside Africa with Alberico da Silva, a Brazilian, as the most notable of them, alongside Rafael Everton another Brazilian, this time as a coach, who led them to their first silverware, the FA Cup.

After the FA Cup victory and subsequent ouster from the CAF Confederation Cup in the hands of Al Masry of Egypt the next year, the club have endured dwindling fortunes. Getting another foreigner, Mitko Dobrev, who struggled to replicate the Everton’s success and was finally replaced by Ladan Bosso. FC Ifeanyi Ubah had their share of marquee additions. There was Tamen Medrano from Ivory Coast and Super Eagles’ goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and former Nigeria Profession Football League (NPFL) goal king who eventually became the highest paid player in the league as a result of that deal, Godwin Obaje.

In all these investments, a few factors meant that the well financed club is yet to reach the heights expected of it, moving from one low point to another culminating in the Nnewi-based club escaping relegation after the NPFL was halted abruptly with the club 17th and the decision not to relegate any club made.

Unlike Manchester City, which patterned their club heirachy to that of Barcelona, employing former staff of the Spanish club to run the English side, and also developing a prototype in player development called EDS (Elite Development Scheme), FC Ifeanyi Ubah seem to have made the mistakes of Malaga CF which felt that results will come from players and be sustained by coaches.

With just a few years in, FC Ifeanyi Ubah can still hit the heights if they make the right decisions. It is true that the Nigerian terrain is believed to be difficult as regards running a professional football club but what is right should be done right and the Anambra Warriors are in a good position to ring changes and set the pace of which Nigeria football can tow.

As they prepare for the abridged 2018/2019 abridged NPFL season, FC Ifeanyi Ubah should develop a working formula to reposition the club from their Malaga CF situation to a Manchester City and be the light that everyone expects to see in the NPFL.

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